Harold Land: West Coast Blues (1960) Jazzland

I’ve been posting about the Jazzland label recently, let’s dig deep into one of the great recordings there, Harold Land, West Coast Blues!

Selection: Ursula (Land)


Joe Gordon (trumpet) Harold Land (tenor sax) Barry Harris (piano) Wes Montgomery (guitar) Sam Jones (bass) Louis Hayes (drums) recorded at Fugazi Hall, San Francisco, CA, May 17-18, 1960, recording engineer Wally Heider.

Artist of Note: Joe Gordon, veteran trumpet player who recorded intermittently with Charlie Parker in the early ’50s, then Blakey and the young Donald Byrd, and was a stalwart of the Gillespie big band. At the end of the 50s he was recording on the West Coast  with Shelley Manne, Dexter Gordon, and here, Harold Land.  The reason you may not be overly familiar with  Gordon – I wasn’t –   is that his recording career was tragically cut short in late 1963, as a result of a house fire.


Harold Land continues to be a firm favourite on the LJC turntable, hard tone but not harsh, with plenty of fire, and inventive compositions. The unusual inclusion of Wes Montgomery (too early for Bobby Hutcherson) gives an added piquancy to the line up. This is only Land’s third album, coming immediately after his excellent The Fox (1959)

The album includes a rare cover version of Charlie Parker’s Klactoveedsedstene (originally with Miles on trumpet), which is possibly harder to pronounce then to play, even more to spell so not a good choice as a password. Speculation as to the meaning Klactoveedsedstene  is redundant, as apparently it’s a piece of typical  Parker non-sense. But my firm favourite is the haunting Land composition, Ursula.

Land takes the typical AABA form and stretches it out a bit—instead of the typical 32 bars, he brings it out to 42 bars with 10-measure A section and a 12-measure bridge. The extended length of each section gives it a more relaxed feeling which complements the medium-swing groove. Another unusual feature is the bar of 6/4 that ends each A section, including the whole form. This unexpected long measure breaks up the form and twists the listener’s expectations“. (OK, I cheated, at this point what does it matter, cut and paste, everybody else does it)

Aside from how the composition works, it’s a beautiful tune that demands repeated play. I took the album to a friend for one of our regular listening sessions, and got an unexpected reaction. Jump to to Collector’s Corner to learn more, especially if you are not a vinyl detective.

Vinyl: Jazzland JLP 20 mono.

Small orange label (92mm) deep groove US original issue? Possibly, even probably. Unlike original Riverside, the Jazzland label came into use after the incorporation of Bill Grauer Productions, so the Inc./no Inc., distinction with Riverside reissues is not available.

A study of Jazzland is underway but I don’t have a clear pattern yet as between the regular 100mm label and the small 92mm, and a lot of copies appear with different pressing rings. Riverside seemed to use a variety of plants at this stage, and what seems like a “little and often” pressing pattern, perhaps reminiscent of Larry The Plastylite Guy’s story of pressing runs in hundreds..

How deep is your groove?


We have the “small” 92mm label  missing the Bill Grauer Productions Inc footer (two left labels), and the regular 100mm label with the Bill Grauer Productions Inc. footer. However there are a number of variations within these, with an inner pressing ring of various sizes, and without. Significance not known, but whenever I get a whiff of mystery I want to know more.

This copy is deep grooved, and has the small 92mm label, a hand etched “AB” on both sides, sign of Abbey Mfg. N.J. as is the characteristic faint central pressing ring only on Side 2. Incidentally, it sounds great.



Collector’s Corner

Scene: vintage vinyl listening session in West London last month, well into a second bottle of exquisite Côtes du Rhône viognier.

Whilst a lot is written about the importance of pairing food with wine, almost no-one is aware of the importance of pairing music with wine.  It’s a completely unknown science I have been working diligently on it for some time now. I have discovered 60’s jazz played on ’60s valve amps, partners French Rhone whites perfectly, especially from top winemakers, just like music skilfully engineered by top sound engineers.

But I digress.

Harold Land’s track Ursula  hits the turntable, with LJC curating the session:

Jazz co-conspirator, cat-lover and afficionado of  film noire soundtracks leaps out of his seat and  exclaims: ” Gato!” (The Cat)

LJC: Eh?

Gato Barbieri, I know that tune,  it’s Last Tango in Paris…

LJC: No, it’s ten years earlier, Harold Land.  But now that you mention it

Set aside the 80’s modal jazz funk bopping Fender bass, synthesisers and choppy rhythm guitar accents , segue Average White Band Pick Up The Pieces,  it’s the the gritty grinding tenor of Gato and that rising, circling tune.  Bertolucci’s masterpiece Ultimo tango a Parigi  (Franco-Italien production) the theme tune captures the whirling  existential angst of  passing relationships, sexual  and emotional turmoil. Cynical me, pure escapism for cinema-goers with generally a quite comfortable life, disaster-tourism. (Who’d be a film critic, let alone jazz and wine?)  But I digress, again.

See what you make of it, never before at LJC, an  A:B Shoot Out,  tune: Ursula vs.film score:  Last Tango In Paris

Ursula (Harold Land)

Last Tango In Paris (Gato Barbieri)


The original soundtrack (Bande Originale) sounds best, but all I have is a Gato compilation with Last Tango recorded ten years after the1972 original  film release. Artists recording here:  Gato Barbieri (tenor saxophone) Joe caro (guitar) Minu Cinelu (percussion) Frank Ferrucci (synths) Gary King  (bass) Eddy Martinez (keyboards) Chris Parker(drums)  arrangements: Gato Barbieri and Teo Macero, recorded NYC 1983, engineer Don Puluse.

This is my favourite jazz film score, along with Barney Wilen/ Miles Davis Échafaud a l’Ascenseur, various 60’s French art-house films which involve disappearing women, and taxis chasing across town, life in black and white. You got me,  just an excuse to showcase the Last Tango score. Perhaps you have some jazz film-score favourites to make mention of? Floor is yours.

Anyway, if you think these two tunes show any sign of similarity, even plagiarism, times are lean now that the window for PPI claims is coming to an end,  the LJC  in-house roster of personal injury compensation and theft of intellectual property lawyers are waiting for your call. Or maybe we might just call you:

Have you had an accident at work that wasn’t your fault,  or heard a song that sounds very very familiar to you?”…

13 thoughts on “Harold Land: West Coast Blues (1960) Jazzland

  1. Definitely one of my favorite Jazzland albums, my copy is DG black label, very decent stereo mix.

    Some more jazz sound tracks – Barney WIlen’s beautiful “Un Témoin Dans La Ville” from 1959 (with Kenny Dorham) & “Mental Cruelty” from 1960, only released few years ago on the German Sonorama label. Also Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers ‎”Les Liaisons Dangereuses” from 1960 with Barney Wilen (who else) & Lee Morgan.

    Vive La France ! Une grenouille sur un lit de frites Vinyl record avec une demande de coupure profonde !

  2. After Échafaud a l’Ascenseur, a big big favorite for me would Sonny Rollins, Alfie. Great Sonny, great band, great music, great recording ( stereo for me), original found in “lot of 5 music sound track lps”. My cd copy is now wall art.

  3. Fantastic record, a firm favorite on my turntable. FWIW, I have the maroon Orpheum reissue and it sounds terrific, so have never felt the need to upgrade.

  4. My favourite film score: Duke Ellington’s “Anatomy Of A Murder”, followed by “Ascenseur” (which is the better jazz record, the “purest” kind of jazz I can think of).

  5. i should add that all three are black label bgp, inc. i had always assumed that these were first pressings. we shall see…

  6. everything i own on jazzland presently (only three titles!?) is dg, stereo (!?), large label, ab etched. these are 920, 937 and 956.

  7. Favorite jazz film score? That would have to be Mindif by Abdullah Ibrahim, the sound track to the film Chocolat. The movie is about a French family living in colonial Cameroon. Definitely French art film, but without the chase scenes. The album features our sax friend Ricky Ford and Billy Higgins on drums and gambray. It was recorded and mixed by RVG, although sound-wise I would not consider it one of his better efforts. This music has an earthy joy that I find irresistable.

  8. Thank you for mentioning Joe Gordon. He also recorded with Monk At The Blackhawk (with Harold Land) and had two albums under his own name. In 1954 he did Introducing for Emarcy (MG 26046) with Charlie Rouse, Jr Mance and Art Blakey. It is an excellent hard-bop session showing off Gordon’s brassy chops. In 1960 for Contemporary (C3597) he did Lookin’ Good with Jimmy Woods and Dick Whittington. This is a more mature outing benefiting from great Roy DuNann sound. All the tunes are quite interesting and were written by Gordon. He even shows flashes of Miles on the ballads. A wonderful player who added a real “soulfullness” to Shelly Manne’s Men.

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